Persona 5 Royal Review – Hearts Of Gold

Persona 5 Royal

In the three years since Persona 5‘s original release, I’ve thought about it almost every day. Its lavish style gracefully captures its spirit of rebellion and breathes life into its dynamic combat system. The evocative, banging soundtrack perfectly encapsulates the emotion of each moment. The downtime spent in Tokyo with your friends brings you closer to each of them, invigorating your fight for what’s right. All those qualities feed into a bold story that unapologetically puts its foot down against the injustices that reflect our own society.

The extended version, Persona 5 Royal, brings the heat all over again. But beyond a plethora of superb gameplay refinements and features that improve an already-rich RPG comes a momentous new story arc seeded within the original narrative and paid off in full by the end. It delivers something genuinely surprising, leading to awe-inspiring moments and emotional conclusions that recontextualize what I thought the game was. Through its lengthy 120-hour runtime, Persona 5 Royal proves itself as the definitive version of a modern classic.

The minute you start P5R, you’re given the fantastic in media res introduction that brilliantly showcases the ride you’re in for–and provides a glimpse at the Royal-exclusive character Kasumi. After this teaser, you’re brought to the chronological start of the story that then walks you through the events that lit the fire inside our protagonist (aka Joker) and kicked off his journey as a virtuous trickster. The opening hours may take some time to pick the pace back up, but by easing you into the game’s systems, you’re set up for the rest of its flow.

P5R expertly intertwines the daily structure of living life as a Japanese high school student and a supernatural-powered vigilante fighting evil in an alternate dimension. Because the social sim elements and RPG dungeon crawling are woven together seamlessly, you grow attached to the very world you’re fighting to change. It’s a format that’s been the series foundation since Persona 3, and it is at its most effective here in P5R with a range of possibilities and new minor UI elements that help communicate your options. Carefully choosing how to spend your precious days and nights by balancing school life, relationships, and your duties as a Phantom Thief throughout the calendar year even makes the mundane exciting.

Best girl Makoto is down to throw hands while being a straight-A student.
Best girl Makoto is down to throw hands while being a straight-A student.

You’ll spend time with characters to learn about what drives them and witness their growth as they internalize and overcome their traumatic pasts. Among your connections are kindhearted adults exhausted by a system that has failed them and teenagers haunted by their past and dreading their future. These are very human stories that often hit close to home and inspire in their own small way (although some are inherently awkward). And these relationships with your Confidants bestow powers you carry into battle. P5R makes the Confidant process easier with new scenes, in the form of phone calls, to help rank them up faster, effectively granting the opportunity to see more of these enticing stories. It’s important because there are a few new Confidants to bond with as well.

The key new opportunities are with Goro Akechi, who is now someone you choose to spend time with, which eventually leads to a better understanding and development of him this time around. Kasumi Yoshizawa has been touted as the big addition to the roster; she fits in well and you’ll see that her desire to be an elite competitive gymnast comes from a darker, complicated place. Although her screen time is limited in the first half of the game, she becomes vital to the delivery of the new story beats and a welcome ally to fight alongside the rest of the gang you know and love. Above all is the school counselor Takuto Maruki, a tremendous character who truly elevates P5R’s narrative. He’s an excellent thematic fit, offering perspectives on mental health that hadn’t been touched in the original. His story is cleverly integrated into the core narrative, and he’s also key for unlocking what’s beyond Persona 5’s original story and some of P5R’s best moments.

Persona 5 Royal wouldn't be what it is without Dr. Maruki.
Persona 5 Royal wouldn’t be what it is without Dr. Maruki.

Relationships are what drive you, but the hard-fought battles take place in the Metaverse, a physical manifestation of corrupted cognition. Demonic shadows lurk as you work to metaphysically crush the distorted desires of abusers who have oppressed your friends and many others–and you do so with a hyper-stylized, confident swagger. With most Palaces comes a new party member and story thread about what led them to join the cause. These aren’t solely tragic backstories for the sake of being dramatic, though–it’s how you come to understand their fighting spirit before they become a beloved comrade. Taking on these story-critical Palaces never loses its luster, as their trippy, imaginative designs and enemies allure you into the wild battles throughout. At times, the very premise of Palaces is subverted to great effect; sometimes evildoers aren’t the only ones who need a change of heart. It further compels you to seek what lies ahead.

Beyond a plethora of superb gameplay refinements and features that improve an already-rich RPG comes a momentous new story arc seeded within the original narrative and paid off in full by the end.

Palaces feature some small but smart changes in P5R, too. Rearranged dungeon layouts accommodate Joker’s new grappling hook, letting you swing to new areas. They often lead to Will Seeds, a collectible that replenishes SP and mold into useful accessories. Returning players may also notice that some dungeon layouts have been streamlined, making exploration smoother. Mementos, the Metaverse’s collection of procedurally generated floors, also gets some much-needed overhauls. Driving around to progress in these twisted subway depths as the Morgana bus was novel, but grew repetitive in the original game. P5R throws in new mechanics like collecting flowers and stamps to cash in for useful items and perks to boost battle rewards. And the most welcome change is that, instead of the same song throughout, new tunes play at deeper levels.

Joker and Kasumi be like v O_O.
Joker and Kasumi be like v O_O.

Aside from stealthily navigating these surreal dungeons, you’ll be spending a ton of time engaged in P5R’s dynamic turn-based combat. It’s swift and stylish, and builds on the strong foundation of Shin Megami Tensei, which has you focusing on exploiting elemental weaknesses and earning extra turns. Standard enemies can be fodder once their affinities are exposed, but tougher ones, minibosses, and bosses tap into combat’s intricacies. P5R layers more onto battles, like the absurd Showtime attacks that have two party members partner up for a high-damage combo that initiates in clutch situations. The powered-up Baton Pass mechanic is even more crucial as it can boost damage and replenish HP and SP. And boss fights now have different phases that present new, tough challenges that require you to think more tactically, testing your mastery of the combat system.

The dripping swagger of it all extends to the snappy and efficient UI that helps keep up combat’s fast pace. Everything unfolds in such a quick and ridiculously stylish fashion that you can’t help but fall in love with it and the Phantom Thieves who pull off all these flashy moves. Even in a second version of the game, executing all-out attacks and watching them unfold hasn’t lost one bit of its charm. Never has a turn-based combat system been this thrilling.

Persona 5 Royal is many things: a collection of small inspiring stories, an ambitious harrowing journey with some good friends, a stunning visual and auditory experience, a resounding call to action.

But P5R isn’t here to just look pretty. Beneath the mask of its unrelenting style and charming silliness are the friendships you naturally form and motivate you to follow the fight through to the very end. From their persona awakenings to the moment you see them fully realize their goals, your fellow Phantom Thieves become your ride or die in this heavy-hitting story. In targeting perpetrators of sexual assault, worker exploitation, and vile authoritarianism, Persona 5 draws a clear line in the sand–people like this have no place in our society and deserve no mercy. There is no middle ground, no compromise to be made, no both sides-ism. Your crew’s personal drama sometimes seeps into the broader message, but not without illustrating why you’re fighting so hard to change things. Even when doubt about their vigilante ways starts to creep in, characters work through it, stick to their ideals, and realize there wasn’t really a choice in the matter.

Morgana said eat the rich.
Morgana said eat the rich.

Admittedly, P5R is often subtle as a brick. It’s easy to nitpick where its writing falls into being too simplistic or a bit rote–although it has improved in some ways, it can still be crude at times. It isn’t particularly nuanced in its storytelling, but it doesn’t have to be. In being clear as day in its narrative, the messages and characterizations are unmistakable. It’s also so wild to me that the game’s almost-caricature villains have become less and less far-fetched in just the three years since the original release–the blatant abuse of power, their wrongdoings laid bare, and the masses uninterested in seeing them face consequences. The conclusion to the original narrative arc just hits differently now, and the game’s dramatic battles have become increasingly cathartic.

Transitioning into the Royal-exclusive third semester, there’s a tonal shift that’s effortlessly executed. Stranger things begin to happen, in an oddly unsettling way, especially during the seemingly blissful winter. Here, P5R takes a turn toward genuine moral quandaries. In this third semester, there’s a bit more to learn about your friends, and there’s one final Palace to infiltrate. And it is, without a doubt, the best one in the entire game.

These new events are beautifully captured with new Royal-exclusive songs that amplify what was already an iconic, genre-bending soundtrack.

Kasumi fits right in fighting alongside the Phantom Thieves.
Kasumi fits right in fighting alongside the Phantom Thieves.

The mysteries within will surprise you, and fascinating revelations about characters propel them well beyond who they presented themselves to be. The pace at which it’s told and how the series of events are framed paint Persona 5 in a new, captivating light while staying true to its original spirit. This new story arc achieves a grand sense of scale and finality, yet captures a more intimate, personal tone. And it all builds up to what’s also the greatest boss battle in all of the game, pushing your combat abilities to their limits.

P5R effectively solves one of the original’s shortcomings: its somewhat abrupt end. In the vanilla version, even after over 100 hours, it felt like there was still a missing piece; P5R has that missing piece. There’s 15 to 20 hours worth of excellent content that takes Persona 5 in a different direction while going all-in on its best qualities. It gives a dramatic, stunning finish even after the original’s bombastic, over-the-top conclusion.

These new events are beautifully captured with new Royal-exclusive songs that amplify what was already an iconic, genre-bending soundtrack. I always recognized “Life Will Change” and “Rivers In The Desert” as perfect examples of how Persona 5 uses its music to portray precise emotions of the moment–songs that exude the infectious confidence of the Phantom Thieves going in to take a corrupted heart. As the case with our old favorites, the new evocative jams become a powerful narrative device. “I Believe” stands as a bold recollection of the long, hard-fought journey that culminates to one last battle, while “Throw Away Your Mask” carries the hint of reluctance between a clash of ideals. The new Palace’s theme has a wistfulness that permeates the scenarios that unfold. Music is inseparable from the Persona experience–the series thrives because of it–and somehow, some way P5R delivers again to make an even stronger impact.

The downtime gives you the opportunity to reflect and just chill with your crew.
The downtime gives you the opportunity to reflect and just chill with your crew.

So, just like in the original, the song “Sunset Bridge” brought my time with P5R to a close. It’s a bittersweet tune that’s used throughout the game to signify a moment of clarity for its characters. But as the final background track before having to leave the game behind, it became my own personal moment of clarity, realizing just how much I’ve cherished my time here, and now for all-new reasons.

As P5R comes to a close, it tries to ease you into its end with heartfelt scenes, some new and some familiar. But in doing so, it only makes it harder to say goodbye again. Persona 5 Royal is many things: a collection of small inspiring stories, an ambitious harrowing journey with some good friends, a stunning visual and auditory experience, a resounding call to action. By refining what was already great and building on its best qualities with a brilliant new story arc, Persona 5 Royal asserts itself as an unforgettable and empowering RPG that should be recognized as one of the best games of our time.

https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/persona-5-royal-review-hearts-of-gold/1900-6417444/

Overwatch 2 got in the way of regular Overwatch updates

overwatch

The Overwatch 2 reveal was one of the biggest announcements at this year’s BlizzCon, and it got even bigger when it was made clear that it would share new characters, maps, gametypes, and even a multiplayer server with the original title. Creating a new game with updated graphics and a brand-new story mode that seamlessly ties in online play with the original game is a fairly intense workload – and that’s why development and updates on Overwatch have seemed sparse lately, according to Jeff Kaplan himself.

Kaplan spoke to Kotaku about Overwatch 2 production and how it resulted in more stagnant Overwatch dev work, citing the sequel as “100 percent the reason” why seasonal events were merely recycled versions of old events, not newly crafted standalone game types. Kaplan told Kotaku, “I sit right next to one of the designers of Junkenstein’s Revenge — this brilliant guy named Mike Heiberg — and he’s like, ‘I have all these ideas I want to do for Halloween this year.’ And I’m like, ‘I understand, Mike, but we’re focused on this other thing right now.'”

Junkenstein’s Revenge has been the Halloween game type for the three years since its inception, with little adjustments to gameplay – it’s as if there’s a big, green “Junkenstein’s Revenge” button that Blizzard pushes once a year and that’s that on Halloween content. Aside from the “Storm Rising” Archive event, which featured a four-player cooperative story mode, every event of 2019 has been either a recycled one (Summer Games, Halloween Terror), or challenge-based “events” that offered themed cosmetics in exchange for playing any pre-existing game type. It seems likely that the Winter Wonderland event will be the same as it has been the last two years, as well.

According to Kotaku, Kaplan is adamant that the decrease in new Overwatch content is a temporary slow down, not a very long death knell, and that when Overwatch 2 production is complete they’ll be able to focus on regularly updating both games. ““I think Overwatch 2 is kinda gonna be the greatest moment in Overwatch history,” he told Kotaku, “The fact that we can pick up again with that live service cadence, where we’re 100 per cent focused, is really exciting to me.”

Whether or not Overwatch will see more love after the as-yet-unknown launch date of Overwatch 2 is something we’ll have to keep an eye on. For now, once more unto the Lucio Ball. 

https://www.gamesradar.com/au/overwatch-2-got-in-the-way-of-regular-overwatch-updates/

Pokemon Sword & Shield Review

pokemon sword and shield

With each new Pokemon game comes a new set of Pokemon, mechanics, and a region to discover, and Sword and Shield are no exception. The vibrant Galar region is a consistent delight to explore, incentivizing and rewarding collecting and battling in equal measure, and grandiose battles add an exciting dimension to the familiar Gym formula to deliver an engaging adventure beginning to end. But most notably, Sword and Shield cut down on the tedious and protracted elements from previous games in favor of amplifying what makes Pokemon great in the first place. This is the most balanced a Pokemon game has felt in a long time, and with that, Sword and Shield mark the best new generation of Pokemon games in years.

The games waste no time in getting you a starter Pokemon and off on your way to becoming the Champion. You can even skip some of the hand-holding you’d get in previous games, including the “how to catch Pokemon” tutorial, which hasn’t been done since 2001’s Pokemon Crystal; if you simply catch some Pokemon right away, the character who would have taught you acknowledges that you’re already good to go instead. You can reach the new Wild Area, an open-world expanse filled with all kinds of Pokemon of all levels, within an hour or so of starting your adventure.

And the Wild Area is the show-stopping feature of this generation. Pokemon roam the fields and lakes, changing with the day’s weather. They pop up as you walk by, and you can even identify Pokemon out of your direct line of vision by their cries. It’s all too easy to set out for one destination only to be distracted by a Pokemon you haven’t caught yet, an item glittering on the ground in the distance, or even an evolved form of a Pokemon that you didn’t realize you could catch in the wild. There’s constantly something new to do or discover, and it’s there to engage you right out of the gate.

Both in the Wild Area and outside of it, the Galar region is stunning. Locales from industrial city centers to rolling hills in shades of green and gold are vivid and beautiful, and small details, like Wooloo playing in a field, add a lot of charm. The United Kingdom-inspired motif includes both crumbling medieval castles and booming football-inspired stadiums, punk musicians and posh snobs–though Galar is still surprising to explore, not adhering so close to theme as to be totally predictable. I even found myself pushing ahead to the next town hoping to find a boutique with new clothes and accessories, on top of everything else waiting to be discovered in each locale, because the UK-inspired plaids and streetwear looks are cute.

pokemon sword and shield

You’re given much more freedom to explore than in previous generations. Sword and Shield go even further than Sun and Moon did in banishing HMs for good; you can fast travel to locations you’ve visited before from anywhere outside starting quite early in the game, and you have a bike that can later convert to a water vehicle to replace Surf. All other roadblocks, like trees in your path you need to Cut or large stones you need to move with Strength, are relics of the past. There are still hooligans that will artificially block your path at certain points in the story, but the actual hurdles to movement are completely gone.

Random encounters are also gone, and instead, you see Pokemon roaming all of Galar–even in the traditional routes and caves–which helps distinguish one area from the next. There are some Pokemon that remain hidden in the tall grass, denoted by an exclamation point, but you have to run toward the rustling grass to actually initiate the fight, so you’re never caught totally by surprise. Some Pokemon can only be found this way; this further encourages you to explore each locale thoroughly while making return trips painless, free of constant interruptions by wild Pokemon or stopping to use Repels to keep them away.

pokemon sword and shield

For wild Pokemon, battles are true to the established formula, but for big battles, Sword and Shield strip out Mega Evolution and Z-moves in favor of a new battle mechanic, Dynamaxing, which is sort of a combination of the two and can only be activated in certain locations. A Dynamaxed Pokemon grows to a massive size and is stronger overall, and its moves convert to superpowered ones based on type. It’s much more bombastic than Mega Evolution or even Z-moves, but functionally, it’s simpler–and that’s refreshing. After years of using both Mega Evolution and Z-moves in high-level battles, Dynamaxing is a welcome reset that also feels like a natural evolution of the increasingly high-octane battle mechanics of recent games. Any Pokemon can Dynamax, too; you’re just limited by location rather than an item, so it’s a more flexible way to battle that works for relaxed and competitive battles alike.

Dynamaxing is a fixture of the new Max Raids, in which you and three other people or NPCs take on a giant Pokemon at certain locations in the Wild Area. Raid Pokemon can vary from run-of-the-mill, easy-to-catch Pokemon to ones that are incredibly hard to find in the wild, but regardless, the rewards are fantastic; completing a raid, even if the Pokemon escapes and you fail to catch it, nets you tons of rare and important items. Plus, the Pokemon you get from raids are guaranteed to have some perfect stats, so even duplicate Pokemon are worth catching again.

pokemon sword and shield

At the lower levels, the raids are pretty easy, and you’ll likely have no trouble taking them on with only NPCs in tow. But the four- and five-star raids are challenging to the point where I couldn’t even complete some of them without the help of other human players. This is a welcome level of difficulty in the post-game, and communicating locally to get a raid group together is seamless–all you have to do is put out a call for raid partners (or people to trade or battle with in general), and nearby players will get a notification and have the option to join you from the social menu. It’s a great alternative to traditional competitive play after you’ve beaten the game, and while it does feed into competitive battling in both the item rewards and the caliber of Pokemon you’re catching, it’s satisfying just to overcome the challenge with friends.

The new Pokemon themselves are fantastic as a set. Quite a few of them seem geared for competitive play, with abilities and moves that inspire interesting strategies. Galarian Weezing, for example, has an ability that neutralizes opponents’ abilities; because many battle strategies involve use of abilities like Intimidate or Sand Stream to set up the battlefield to your advantage, Weezing could be a serious threat. There are also the aesthetically-inclined Pokemon, like the incredibly goth Corviknight or the adorable electric corgi Yamper, to inspire collectors. Throughout my journey, I was consistently delighted to discover each new Gen 8 Pokemon and the Galarian forms of older ones.

pokemon sword and shield

The starters, sadly, are among the worst of the new Pokemon; while they’re cute at first, their final evolutions are all not great. Each fits the British theme in a clever way and has a unique move to go with it, but on a purely visual level, all three are awkward with no clear winner among them. I still feel guilty confining my starter to the Pokemon Box, but it at least freed up a spot in my party to try out the new Pokemon I do like.

The Pokedex features a healthy mix of old Pokemon from each previous generation as well. There are certainly surprising omissions, but like with the new Pokemon, the list includes both fun Pokemon and competitive ones, plus an even spread of types. Sword and Shield might not have every Pokemon in existence, but what’s here is balanced exquisitely for battle, cuteness factor, and type. And because there are items that give Pokemon experience points now–and because you can access your Pokemon boxes almost anywhere–you can easily change up your team on the fly without having to stop and grind just to get a new Pokemon caught up in level. I experimented with different Pokemon more during Shield’s main story than I ever did in a previous Pokemon game, and it made me appreciate the Gen 8 Pokemon even more.

pokemon sword and shield

It also makes for a more digestible experience. The Wild Area is expansive, and because the available Pokemon change with the weather, it can look very different from one day to the next. There are enough Pokemon to keep things dynamic and surprising as you explore each day, but with some consistency across each biome so you know at least what kinds of Pokemon to expect. Even after 55 hours, there are still Pokemon I have no idea how to find, and uncovering the Wild Area’s secrets bit by bit has been a treat.

If anything, the constant draw of the Wild Area made the pacing of the story a bit choppy. I wandered and explored for five hours before challenging my first Gym, then defeated the next two in quick succession before breaking again to revisit the Wild Area. That said, I also was never too over- or underpowered for each Gym, and I was eager to explore in between them regardless. You can also do more in the Wild Area than just battle and catch Pokemon–you can camp out and make curry with your Pokemon, and that ended up being a lovely distraction. Making curry and playing with my Pokemon was a great way to break up longer excursions, plus a convenient way to heal everybody at once, and it’s really just an adorable way to spend a few minutes.

pokemon sword and shield

The Gyms themselves are a refinement on the longstanding formula in which you would have to go through a maze or solve a little puzzle to reach the Gym Leader. Similarly, each has a Gym Challenge, but they vary from herding Wooloo to competing with NPC trainers to catch a Pokemon, and this keeps things from getting stale. Dynamaxing combines with anime-style drama to make the Gym battles themselves appropriately exciting, too, as your opponents tend to put on quite the show when they enter the stadium. While the Gym and other story battles are largely pretty simple, some of the later ones do take more thought (and a few revives, in my case).

For competitive battles, small but significant quality-of-life tweaks greatly reduce the remaining barriers to entry. There are now items that allow you to change a Pokemon’s nature, which was the main missing piece in getting Pokemon battle-ready without hours and hours of tedious breeding and soft-resetting. You can also leave two Pokemon of the same species in the Daycare together, and one can pass Egg Moves to the other, meaning you don’t have to re-breed a Pokemon just because you forgot to put one Egg Move on it or changed your strategy a bit. The post-game Battle Tower also includes rental teams right off the bat to introduce you to some basic strategies, which also means you can start climbing the ranks without scrambling to prepare a slipshod team of your own first. All of this gets you battling at a competitive level much more quickly than was possible before, which is the whole point.

pokemon sword and shield

In collecting, battling, and exploring, Sword and Shield cut out the bloat and focus on what makes these pillars of the Pokemon games so captivating in the first place. You’re not held back by overly complicated back-end systems or hoops to jump through; from the outset, you can start wandering the Galar region, seeing its new Pokemon, and trying out its new battle strategies with very little in your way. This leaves you free to enjoy what Pokemon is all about, and that makes for an incredibly strong showing for the series’ proper debut on Switch.

https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/pokemon-sword-and-shield-review-curry-favor/1900-6417363/

RESIDENT EVIL 3 REVIEW: “A TENSE, JUMPY RETELLING OF THE PS1 CLASSIC IN A MODERN GAMING LANGUAGE”

RESIDENT EVIL 3

PROS

  • Great atmosphere and scares
  • Interesting, varied locations
  • More enemies and action

CONS

  • Easy to get caught out in tight spaces
  • Nemesis is a bit disappointing
  • Shallower than Resi 2

When everything hits its mark, Resident Evil 3 is almost every bit as good as last year’s Resident Evil 2 Remake. A tense, jumpy retelling of the PS1 classic in a modern gaming language, it tries a few new ideas but works best when it sticks closely to the previous game’s template of undead crowd control and criss-crossing hub areas to unravel. Like the original game it’s a slightly more gun heavy take on the series’ zombie surviving, and one that rewards aggression more than caution to create a faster, more trigger happy adventure that’s still Resident Evil at heart. It lacks some of the depth and variety of last year’s Resident Evil 2 Remake, with less puzzles and more action, but it’s still a rewarding slice of horror. 

FAST FACTS
RESIDENT EVIL 3

Release date: April 3, 2020
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom

Curiously, the Nemesis – the cover star and arguably the point of the whole thing – is far less of a pursuing menace than Mr X this time. I mention it now because if you were expecting the original’s set up – where he repeatedly appears to hound you – you’re going to be dissapointed. Aside from the opening city section, where he chases you for a small segment, he’s largely relegated to more set piece orientated moments and tightly defined boss fight encounters.  

Street life

But the opening city streets, where Nemesis first menaces you are an exciting start with a different feel after Resident Evil 2’s more subdued corridor based apocalypse. Wandering around outside during a zombie apocalypse in progress is a far more interesting location to digest as you scan the burning skyline or wonder what happened to leave all the piled up roadblocks and trashed cars. It’s also the best mix of the old and new ideas here – mainly the new dodge move and the increase in enemies. The more open areas really capitalise on the main character Jill’s ability to sidestep zombies to manage threats. In later, more corridor-y, areas dodging can be a bit hit and miss with less space to move in. 

RESIDENT EVIL 3

This city street section is the only place where the Nemesis really appears as you might expect – a constant, lumbering, trench coated danger. Once he arrives you are constantly on the run, or at least trying to be as he leaps in front of you or lashes out with long range tentacles. When I played the game at preview stage I wasn’t entirely sold on the mechanics because having an unkillable enemy that’s always in your face can only hold your interest for so long.  But as it turns out there’s far less to worry about in the full game. Partly because when you first encounter the creature there are plenty of grenades and explosive barrels to knock him down for the minute or two’s respite you need to tick off your apocalypse to-do list. However, what is surprising is that after this opening encounter, the Nemesis never really appears in this way again and, instead, the focus shifts to more compartmentalised, structured encounters. 

Combat ready

Having plenty of weapons and ammo to deal with the Nemesis’ initial (and, really, only) face to face encounter is part of getting your head around the fact that this is a much more shooter-focused Resident Evil experience, keeping with the more action focused shift in the original game. There’s plenty of ammo this time but it might take a while to realise that you can pretty much go weapons free on any threat you find. Old habits meant I initially played with the old Resident Evil 2 mindset of making every shot count and avoiding rather than fighting enemies for a while, but that actually makes things more tricky. There are generally more zombies in any given area so it’s best to blast everything that moves to avoid getting overwhelmed. 

When it works it’s a satisfying role reversal that feels like you’re taking control of the zombie apocalypse rather than surviving it. That said it mainly clicks in the larger areas where you have more room to aim, reposition and manage threat spacing. With less space you can easily end up firing wildly from a corner or wall you’ve inadvertently backed yourself into. The second playable character, Carlos, also swaps the dodge for a shoulder barge that takes you towards enemies and can sometimes make things worse.

RESIDENT EVIL 3

Tighter spaces can also expose frustrations with the Hunter enemies who use insta-kill attacks suddenly and without warning. These are true insta-kills too that can spell death even if you’re at full health. The blind frog-like Hunter Gammas can swallow you whole, while the Hunter Beta can tear your throat out with zero warning. On the one hand it makes them a genuinely terrifying encounter in a game with some already strong jump scares, but it can be irritating to die instantly. Usually in tighter spaces where you don’t always have the room to keep the distance you need to survive too. 

In fact, despite extra enemies, more ammo and a few new ideas (most of which I’m either not allowed to talk about or don’t want to spoil) Resident Evil 3 works best when it sticks to what made Resident Evil 2 so good – settling into a hub-like area to unravel it; tracking from one objective to the next to progress further is just as good here as in the last game. The mid-point hospital level is an extremely enjoyable high for the game and on par with Resident Evil 2’s RCPD building as a chunky location you spend considerable time in, slowly peeling back its layers. 

Character building

Character wise however this actually edges out Resident Evil 2 a touch. I liked both Jill and Carlos a lot more than Leon and Claire, while the villain Nikolai is a gloriously sneery heel. Overall the writing more lovingly embraces a cheesy action movie feel that works beautifully against the zombie monster setting. At one point a character calls someone a “ballsy montherfucker” in a moment that’s 100% 80s Arnie camp machismo and I am totally here for it.

RESIDENT EVIL 3

Leaving the story briefly, there’s also a multiplayer option this time. Resident Evil Resistance is obviously a new angle and it’s a perfectly functional experience that’s pretty good fun. I say that having played in lobbies with people I actually know. Its escape room premise – four players battle zombies to locate keys and survive while a fifth bad guy player summons monsters and traps – works well with communication. I’ve yet to spend much time with online randoms, but as talking and working together is so key to winning as a team that it all depends on who you’re with. 

The single player however is decent enough that the multiplayer is just a bonus. That said the main campaign does feel brief and light – I clocked a 9 hour completion time that included plenty of backtracking to find the few upgrades and extras scattered around. As I mentioned, there’s fewer puzzles, or multistage lock systems to unreveal, favoring instead a more direct progression of door opening. It lacks the breadth of the last remake in that sense but with the focus more on action it suits a faster pace and the balance still creates satisfying, albeit lighter, reimagining for the series. 

https://www.gamesradar.com/au/resident-evil-3-remake-review/